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Taylor’s Hill girl signs up to major modelling agency



A 16-year-old Barna girl who has harboured dreams of becoming a fashion designer since she small has been signed to one of the biggest modelling agencies in Ireland.

Serena O’Connell has already done fashion shoots for the buyers of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, taken part in a makeover segment for TV3’s Xposé and been chosen to do a makeup campaign for the cosmetics company Urban Decay. serena-oconnell3

The Transition Year student at Dominican College (Taylor’s Hill) only signed up to the Andrea Roche Model Agency in October after auditioning at an open day. She was invited to do training at a boot camp which paved the way for paid work.

She decided to give it a go after people were always suggested she was cut out for the industry.

“People always noticed my height and said I’d be good at modelling. I’m just under 5’11”. A lot of people say I’m like Kendall Jenner or Selena Gomez.”

Insisting that she’s “not super-skinny like the New York models” – her profile page lists her as size 8 – she says her height does make her stand out in the Irish industry.

So far the experience has proved very positive.

“I’ve only just started out but everyone’s so nice, everyone’s so energetic. I’ve love to do it while I’m at school and college.”

Models that she admires includes Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn.

Despite her auspicious start in the game, modelling would not be her first love.

Rather, she wants to become a fashion designer, a desire she nurtured as a child when she would design dresses for her dolls. image3

When she was eight, her mother, Maura O’Connell, organised for her to meet designer John Rocha, who was in Fallers Jewellers to launch his collection of Waterford Crystal.

“He said I had to learn to draw really well. When it came to organising work experience I wrote to him and sent him a picture of us from that day and sent a portrait I drew of him as well as a few of my designs and he invited me to work in his studio for a week.”

She got advice from the team about building up her portfolio to apply for fashion design courses in Dublin or Limerick. Ideally she would love to study and then get experience in the fashion hot bed of London.

Modelling could well be the perfect way to get on the inside track to a notoriously competitive industry.

“You get loads of contacts through modelling so I hope it will be really helpful. I’d love to work with big designers.” image8

Her favourite shop in town is Top Shop but she also loves to browse in Brown Thomas. Her school friends think her newfound career is “really cool”.

“They’re not really into that stuff – it’s just something that I do.”


Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year



From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option



From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway



Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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